AVC students to host fashion show to aid abused and neglected farm animals

Members of the group Friends of the Gentle Barn are working to raise money for The Gentle Barn, an organization dedicated to providing care for abused farm animals.

LANCASTER – Antelope Valley College students are hosting a fashion show and silent auction on May 11 to help raise money and awareness for abused or neglected farm animals.

The event is part of the final project for a Small Group Communications class, where students were asked to find a charity that means something to them and hold a real fundraiser.

Nine students in the class formed Friends of the Gentle Barn, a group in support of the nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting animals that are voiceless and often abused.

The Gentle Barn is able to rescue animals whose owners can no longer care for them as well as rehabilitate animals to where they can trust people again.

Group member Megan Lemos said she saw an ad for The Gentle Barn at the theaters a few months ago, but it wasn’t until group member Tammy Johnson brought it up that she remembered the organization.

“It’s not just some made up xyz charity, we have real animals that we’re working to save so these lessons become very important,” said Lemos.

“Through learning about Gentle Barn, I’ve really connected with it and I think that what they do is great,” said group member Derek Seyler. “So for me, it’s been a learning lesson in itself.”

Seyler said it’s important to know that $16 buys a bale of hay.

“It’s a tangible object to grasp onto. You can think about purchasing a bale of hay and you can imagine the malnourished cows,” Lemos added. “All of the money is going to go directly to all of these animals that you can go visit and you can almost trace your dollars into the bellies of a cow.”

Derek Seyler sets up the room in the same way it will look on May 11, the day of the charity auction and fashion show.

The Friends of the Gentle Barn fundraiser has a classic Hollywood theme. The idea for the event came about during a brainstorming session in which Seyler suggested doing something bigger than a car wash or a bake sale.

“(Seyler said) ‘Let’s really raise awareness and get people interested. Not just in passing get a couple bucks, but educate as well as raise funds.’ He has all of these connections and I don’t think any of us would have thought, let’s go to the Hilton and see if they’ll donate their big room,” Lemos said.

The event starts with a cocktail hour at 7 p.m., on Friday, May 11 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Palmdale, Seyler said. During this time, people can enjoy drinks from the bar at the Hilton, appetizers from Johnny Carino’s and Double D Cupcakes, and bid on items such as Sea World passes, Universal Studios tickets, golf packages at the Rancho Vista Golf Club, Kenneth Cole handbags, a Raiders signed football and other items.

Around 8:30 p.m., attendees will sit for the fashion show, which will feature the work of celebrity stylist Kelly Johnson.

“The fashion show is going to be kind of a nod to classic Hollywood,” Seyler said. “Like how The Gentle Barn reinvigorates and rehabilitates animals, we’re going to rehabilitate some of the classic looks. So we’ll do like a Marilyn Monroe for 2012, a Joan Crawford 2012, Marlene Dietrich, James Dean. Just like what they would wear now.”

Before concluding the night by announcing the auction winners, representatives from The Gentle Barn will talk about the organization and tell everyone what they are all about, Seyler said.

There will also be lower ticket items, such as $25 gift cards to various places in the mall and $25 grocery store gift cards, he said.

Tickets to the Friends of the Gentle Barn’s charity fashion show and silent auction are $30 and can be purchased before the event by clicking here or at the door.

Although this particular event was created for a class project, Lemos said she is hoping to continue raising funds for The Gentle Barn in the future.

“It wouldn’t be such a fast and furious fundraising race,” she said. “This fashion show and silent auction is ideally going to be an annual event, and then we can find, throughout the year, different opportunities to fundraise.”

“People know about Red Cross and they think about donating to Red Cross. We want everyone across the country to think Friends of the Gentle Barn, ‘Oh maybe I can donate a little bit’ at Christmas and turn it into a tradition,” Lemos continued.

Friends of the Gentle Barn can be found on Facebook here. To learn more about The Gentle Barn, visit www.gentlebarn.org.